Graham Questions Legality of Possible Trump Orders

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is asking Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford for answers to questions raised by Donald Trump’s statements during the Republican presidential debate Thursday evening. Trump said the military would follow his orders, even if they are illegal. “They’re not going to refuse me, believe me… if I say do it, they’re gonna do it. That’s what leadership is all about,” Trump said. In a letter released Friday, Graham asked Dunford several questions, including whether the intentional targeting of noncombatant family members of terrorists—which Trump has supported—is legal under the international law of war, and whether Dunford would view orders to target noncombatants or to use waterboarding or other extreme interrogation techniques as lawful orders. “One of the things I most admire about you is that your warrior spirit coexists with an ethical underpinning,” wrote Graham, a former Air Force lawyer and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination. Trump on Friday issued a statement reversing the position he took during the debate. “I will not order a military officer to disobey the law,” he said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal. The debate in which Trump made the remarks came one day after dozens of Republican national security leaders published an open letter explaining their opposition to a Trump presidency.